The Tesla CEO opposed censoring Russian media
SpaceX and Tesla tycoon Elon Musk wrote in March that RT and other Russian news sources were “entertaining” and made “some good points,” according to court documents. Musk refused to block these sites’ IP addresses from his Starlink internet service, despite pressure from “some governments.”
In a text message conversation with investor Antonio Gracias dated March 5, Musk revealed that he had “been told” to block the IP addresses of RT and “several other Russian news sources” from being accessed via his Starlink satellite internet service.
“Actually I find their news quite entertaining,” Musk confided in Gracias. “Lots of bulls**t, but some good points too.”
Earlier that day, Musk announced on Twitter that “Starlink has been told by some governments (not Ukraine) to block Russian news sources.” The billionaire said that he would “not do so unless at gunpoint,” adding: “Sorry to be a free speech absolutist.”
The European Union banned RT and Sputnik from its airwaves several days before Musk’s tweet and his conversations with Gracias. Amid US sanctions on Moscow, RT America ceased operations that same week, and Google removed RT’s and Sputnik’s apps from its Play Store, while YouTube removed the broadcasters’ channels.
Gracias sided with Musk on free speech, replying that he “100% agree[d]” with the Tesla chief’s stance.
“We should allow it precisely [because] we hate it,” he wrote. “That is the ping of the American constitution.”
At the time of the conversation, Musk was expanding his stake in Twitter in a bid to purchase the company. He eventually launched a takeover bid in April, but is currently locked in a legal battle with the social media giant after he attempted to withdraw from the deal, claiming that Twitter inflated its user base and is actually worth less than the $44 billion he had agreed to pay.
The messages were released along with a trove of Musk’s communications records by a Delaware court earlier this week.